Prof. Atahiru Jega, a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, says Nigeria is capable of conducting a credible election in 2023 in spite of the current challenges.
Jega said this at a Colloquim in honour of Prof. Adele Jinadu, a Senior fellow of Centre of Democracy Development (CDD), to mark his 79th birthday celebration.
The theme of the colloquium is “Adele Jinadu and Electoral Democracy in Nigeria: Knowledge Production and Praxis”.
It was organised by The Electoral Hub in Abuja.
He said that despite increasing attacks on INEC facilities and violence at political campaigns, he was still optimistic about a credible election.
“I have fears about the outcome of the election, but I am optimistic about the future of our country.
“So, I remain hopeful that in spite of the recklessness and vandalism being perpetrated by many leading politicians,
“It is hopeful that people will mobilise and become effectively engaged in the electoral process for a good outcome in 2023.
“We can’t give up hope.
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“We still have to engage because the more we engage, the more the possibility of change happening,” he said.
Jega described Jinadu as a beacon of hope for the next generation passionate about the need to reform Nigeria’s electoral process.
He said there was a need for academia to participate in politics for the progress and development of the country.
“Nigeria is at a very critical junction when the promises of democratic development are being systemically undermined and eroded.
“The nation is in need of knowledgeable people who believe in humanity to address the fundamental need of the people.
“Jinadu did not bury his head in the university system but is also active in sharing knowledge and experience.
“This is in order to reform our politics, clean up our electoral system and ensure good governance,” he said.
Also speaking, a former INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Okey Ibeanu, said that 2023 would define the future of the country.
Ibeanu was optimistic that the attacks on INEC facilities would not affect the conduct of the poll.
“The 79th birthday of Jinadu is a good time to reflect on our electoral democracy.
“Especially, his personal contribution to the development of that democracy generally and particularly as a teacher and as an activist.
“I can’t see into the future but I hope what is happening now does not affect the poll.
“INEC seems to be ready and what is important is for Nigerians to realise the importance of this readiness,” Ibeanu said.
The celebrant, Jinadu, spoke on the need to unlock the fetters placed on democracy and development by the political class.
“There are worrisome signs, particularly within the civil society, of a growing vicious attempt to discredit the leadership of INEC.
“They are working to bring about the reversal of advances towards the routinisation of democracy in the country under Jega and now under Mahmood Yakubu.”
Jinadu said that pro-democracy stakeholders and civil society should devote more energy to resisting ongoing attempts by anti-democracy forces.
According to him, they are working to derail INEC by launching an attack on it.
The Director of the Electoral Hub, Princess Hamman-Obels, described Jinadu as an icon of democracy.
Jinadu, she said, had worked tirelessly in reforming Nigeria’s electoral integrity.
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